The great indigenous visionary, philosopher, author and activist Vine Deloria, Jr. passed over to join his ancestors today, November 13, 2005. Our thoughts and prayers go to his wife, Barbara, to his children and his other relatives. The passing of Vine creates a huge intellectual and analytical void in the native and non-native worlds. He will be greatly missed.

It is appropriate on this website to reflect on the meaning of Vine's contributions to indigenous peoples' resistance, and to reflect on our responsibilities to maintain and to advance the lessons that Vine gave to us. It is safe to say that without the example provided by the writing and the thinking of Vine Deloria, Jr., there likely would have been no American Indian Movement, there would be no international indigenous peoples' movement as it exists today, and there would be little hope for the future of indigenous peoples in the Americas.

Vine Deloria, Jr. was a true revolutionary when he wrote "Custer Died for Your Sins" in 1969, the first of his scores of books and scholarly articles (for a partial bibliography of Vine's important books go to: He had the courage and the vision to challenge the dominating society at its core. He was unapologetic in confronting the racism of and policy, and he was prophetic in challenging young indigenous activists to hone their strategies.
We will write much more about Vine in the upcoming days. He was our elder statesman and mentor. For now, we will share this passage from "Custer Died For Your Sins," as a reminder of our responsibilities, and to ensure that we are more deliberate and strategic in our resistance.

"Ideological leverage is always superior to violence....The problems of Indians have always been ideological rather than social, political or economic....[I]t is vitally important that the Indian people pick the intellectual arena as the one in which to wage war. Past events have shown that the Indian people have always been fooled by the intentions of the white man. Always we have discussed irrelevant issues while he has taken our land. Never have we taken the time to examine the premises upon which he operates so that we could manipulate him as he has us."
-- "Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto," (1969) pp.251-252

and this relevent passage regarding the example of the great Oglala Lakota leader Tashunka Witko (Crazy Horse):
"Crazy Horse never drafted anyone to follow him. People recognized that what Crazy Horse did was for the best and was for the people. Crazy Horse never had his name on the stationery. He never had business cards. He never received a per diem. *** Until we can once again produce people like Crazy Horse all the money and help in the world will not save us. It is up to us to write the [next] chapter of the American Indian upon this continent." page 272

For many of us, Vine was a contemporary Crazy Horse. Perhaps we squandered his time with us. We took him for granted, and assumed that he would always be with us. Now, the question is, not only will we produce more Crazy Horses, but will we produce more Vine Deloria, Jr.s?

Vine, we will miss you, but we will continue your work toward freedom for native peoples everywhere. Mitakuye Oyasin.

©American Indian Movement of Colorado:

Partial bibliograhy of books by vine deloria, jr.

  • Aggressions of civilization: federal Indian policy since the  1880s, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1984.
  • American Indian policy in the twentieth century, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1985.
  • American Indians, American justice, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983.
  • Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties: an Indian declaration of independence, New York: Dell Publishing Co., 1974.
  • A Better Day for Indians, New York: Field Foundation, 1976.
  • A brief history of the Federal responsibility to the American Indian, Washington: Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1979,
  • Custer died for your sins: an Indian manifesto, New York: Macmillan, 1969.
  • For this land: writings on religion in America, New York: Routledge, 1999.
  • Frank Waters: man and mystic, Athens: Swallow Press: Ohio University Press, 1993.
  • God is red: a native view of religion, Golden, Colorado: North American Press, 1994.
  • The Indian affair, New York: Friendship Press, 1974.
  • Indians of the Pacific Northwest, New York: Doubleday, 1977.
  • The metaphysics of modern existence, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979.
  • The nations within: the past and future of American Indian sovereignty, New York: Pantheon Books, 1984.
  • Of utmost good faith, San Francisco: Straight Arrow Books, 1971.
  • Red earth, white lies: Native Americans and the myth of scientific fact, New York: Scibner, 1995.
  • The red man in the new world drama: a politico-legal study with a pageantry of American Indian history, New York: Macmillan, 1971.
  • Reminiscences of Vine V. Deloria, Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota 1970, New York Times oral history program: American Indian oral history research project. Part II; no. 82.
  • The right to know: a paper, Washington, D.C.: Office of Library and Information Services, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, 1978.
  • A sender of words: essays in memory of John G. Neihardt, Salt Lake City: Howe Brothers, 1984.
  • Singing for a spirit: a portrait of the Dakota Sioux, Santa Fe, N.M.: Clear Light Publishers, 1999.
  • Spirit and reason: the Vine Deloria, Jr., reader, Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum Pub, 1999.
  • Tribes, treaties, and constitutional tribulations (with Wilkins, David E.), Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999.
  • We talk, you listen; new tribes, new turf, New York: Macmillan, 1970.


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